Israeli Ambassador: U.S statement could have been drafted in Tel Aviv.
Posted by rabbibrian on October 5, 2009
“It could have been drafted in Tel Aviv, it was so wonderful. The statement upheld the morality of the IDF, it upheld Israel’s right to defend itself against terror, it upheld the integrity of the Israeli legal system.”
“I spent several hours calling people in Washington, thanking them [for being] willing to show such courage and such commitment to the US-Israel alliance. It was very, very inspiring.”
This statement by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., highlights how closely the United States followed the Israeli lead on the Goldstone Report. I find this just outrageous. Why did the U.S. decide to toe the line so closely with Israel on the report? It seems that the United States bartered some concession from Israel in terms of final status talks in return for complicity with Israel in squashing the Goldstone Report. You can read more about this, and also some possibilities as to what Israel and the U.S. promised the P.A. in return for withdrawing the Goldstone Report at the United Nations Human Rights Council, on Richard Silverstein’s blog.
This trading between the U.S., Israel and the P.A. resulting in immunity for Israel is just shocking. I wonder if the Obama Administration is counting on Netanyahu to fulfill whatever promises Israel made regarding the “peace process.” Didn’t they learn anything from their experience with Netanyahu in haggling over a settlement freeze? More importantly, how can one separate human rights issues from the issue of peace.
Oren refers to three aspects of the American report that he celebrates:
1. “It upheld the morality of the I.D.F.”
After countless reports by Israeli human rights organizations over the past two decades documenting human rights violations by the I.D.F. (just visit the B’tselem website for a listing of their reports) our government perpetuates the lie of the I.D.F. as “the most moral army in the world?” There is every reason to believe that the Israeli army is no different from any other army. For the past forty two years, the I.D.F. has been an army of occupation and during this period of time it has committed countless human rights violations against the Palestinians. I remember a conversation I had with one of the leaders of Shovrim Shtika/Soldiers Breaking the Silence describing the shocking actions that he and his soldiers took as a matter of course during their service in the Occupied Territories. On several visits to Israel and the Occupied Territories I have seen with my own eyes, the way the I.D.F. violates the rights of Palestinians in so many ways.
If the Israeli army is in reality “the most moral army in the world”, why doesn’t Israel follow the recommendation of the Goldstone report and appoint an independent, credible, transparent investigation into the allegations about Gaza and prove it. Not only hasn’t Israel done this, it has taken many steps over the years to try to prevent any independent observers from being on the West Bank. Failing a credible, independent investigation, I don’t understand why anyone should believe this claim.
2. “It upheld Israel’s right to defend itself against terror”
Despite the fact that Judge Goldstone has repeated over and over again that his report did not in any way address the issue of whether Israel had a right to launch the assault on Gaza or, for that matter, whether Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have the right to resist the Israeli blockade by attacking Israel, the Israeli and U.S. government continue to argue that the report questioned Israel’s right to defend itself. This issue was out of the purview of the Goldstone Commission, it focuses strictly on whether both parties, Israel and Hamas, violated International Humanitarian Law by attacking civilians. The reason Israel repeats this claim is to deflect attention from the substance of the report that focuses on human rights violations by both sides.
3. “It upheld the integrity of the Israeli legal system.”
This assertion is a response to the call for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the charges of the Goldstone Report. No country or military in the world should be trusted to investigate serious charges that are made about their conduct. Israel does not have a great record of accountability in terms of violations committed by its forces against Palestinians and despite Israel’s claim of many investigations in process, this is true in relation to Operation Cast Lead as well. Here is what Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem, says about the investigations that Israel touts in regard to Operation Cast Lead.
FOR MONTHS, Israeli human rights organizations have urged our government to open credible, independent investigations into the hundreds of allegations of military misconduct in Gaza. The authorities have stubbornly refused, largely making do with military debriefings that categorically absolve our forces of any wrongdoing. Only a handful of military police investigations have been opened, and the one criminal investigation to be concluded is the exception that proves the rule. A soldier in the Givati brigade was tried, convicted and sentenced – for stealing a credit card.
As an American citizen, I am shocked at the role that our government has played. I don’t understand how Michael Posner, himself a dedicated human rights advocate, can support this position. I don’t trust the U.S. government to investigate allegations of human rights violations by our army and I don’t trust Israel’s govenment either. It requires an independent investigation and that is what Goldstone suggested.